Friday, May 20, 2005

Humor! On My Blog!

Well, only a link, not me actually being funny, because while my sense of comedic timing is not yet dead (insert requisite Pythonism here), I find very little funny in America at the moment.

But look! For Women Only! Quick! Only Women Are Allowed to Read This Post. Funny! Right here in our studio!

It's all right. I'll be funny again. Right now, I just say I'm saving it up for the tell-all book.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Big Corporation tramples the little guy.

Halliburton Protest: 16 Arrested, a Dozen Trampled by Horses

Metaphoric, don't you think?

Push Back on the White House Newsweek Scam

Push Back on the White House Newsweek Scam

Third, the public deserves to know what precisely the White House is asserting with respect to the mistreatment of the Koran by interrogators: are such reports categorically false or are they, in the words of one publication, "manifold?" For example, a May1st New York Times report indicated that a Koran was thrown into a pile and stepped on at the Guantanamo detention facility and "[a] former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." The incident where a Koran was allegedly thrown in a toilet was also recounted by a former detainee in a March 26, 2003 article in the Washington Post, and corroborated by another detainee in a August 4, 2003 report by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The question is: are you categorically denying that the mistreatment of the Koran occurred, or are you simply denying the Newsweek report is accurate on hyper technical grounds?

I don't think so

Bill to renew Patriot Act would expand powers

"While we're fighting to bring provisions ... back into balance with the Bill of Rights, here we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans," said former GOP Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, a critic of the law.

Now, remember: this is the same US government that tortures people. Do you really want them to have more power to wade through your life whenever they feel like it, with no oversight whatsoever?

I don't think so.

Committee aides said the committee planned to meet in private when it considers the bill because the discussions would involve intelligence operations.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Top 10 Lies About Filibusters

The Top 10 filibuster falsehoods, from Media Matters.

My favorite is #10

Falsehood #10: Democrats have opposed "all" or "most" of Bush's judicial nominees

"Nuclear option" proponents have drastically exaggerated Democratic efforts to block Bush's judicial nominees, suggesting that they have opposed all of his nominees or all of his conservative nominees.

It's the Republican "oh, but we're oppressed victims" card in play.

In fact, the Senate has to date approved 205 judicial nominees, with Senate Democrats filibustering 10. The vast majority of Bush's nominees have received strong bipartisan support. For example, in April district court nominee Paul Crotty was confirmed by a vote of 95-0. Even among Bush's first-term appellate nominees, the Senate confirmed more than 70 percent.

Yeah. A 95% success rate is being an oppressed victim.


You don't think Republicans might have filibustered, do you!?

Why, that would almost be too much to bear thinking. But I will anyway.

SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?

Yep. It is.

Sauce for the goose, baby. If Republicans can filibuster, so can Democrats. To claim otherwise would be hypocritical, wouldn't it?

Moonlife Making Waves!

Whisperin' and Hollerin' Gives Moonlife's "Reach The Stars" a 9-star rating

Download some tracks and listen for yourself.

Newsweek, the Koran, and Racism

Newsweek "must do more"

"We appreciate the step that Newsweek took yesterday," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "It was a good first step. And what we would like to see now is for Newsweek to work to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region, and Newsweek certainly has the ability to help undo what damage can be undone."
While offering few specifics, McClellan said Newsweek should explain "what happened and why they got it wrong, particularly to people in the region."
"They can also talk about policies and practices of the United States military. Our United States military goes out of its way to treat the holy Koran with great care and respect," he said.


Angry clash over dog, woman's bag and holy book (October, 2003)

The confrontation began when Amal Karim, 28, showed up for work at the Oil Ministry in Baghdad yesterday morning and faced a routine search at the ministry entrance by US soldiers, who have guarded the building tightly since the end of the US-Iraq war last April.

When the Americans told her to submit her bag to a sniff-search by a dog, she refused, saying the bag held a copy of the Koran, Iraqi witnesses later reported.

Devout Iraqis often carry Islam's holy book with them, and Muslims consider dogs to be dirty, disease-spreading animals.

"When she refused, the American soldiers took the Koran out of her bag and threw it to the ground," said one woman, Zaineb Rahim. "Then the American soldiers handcuffed Amal."

(Official Retraction) The Newsweek Backtrack: Did the Right Win a Game of Chicken? cites last years Human Rights Watch report on abuses:

They were never given prayer mats and initially they didn't get a Koran. When the Korans were provided, they were kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets. This kept happening. When it happened it was always said to be an accident but it was a recurrent theme.

And then, Digby, long before Newsweek triggered the Apocalypse, in The Horrors of Gitmo quotes from Composite Statement: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay:

[S]exual provocation, molestation....It did not come about at first that people came back and told about it. They didn't. What happened was that one detainee came back from interrogation crying and confided in another what had happened. That detainee in turn thought that it was so shocking he told others and then other detainees revealed that it had happened to them but they had been too ashamed to admit to it. It therefore came to the knowledge of everyone in the camp that this was happening to some people. It was clear to us that this was happening to the people who'd been brought up most strictly as Muslims.

But hey, this isn't about Islam. Remember Army Lt. General William Boykin, a deputy undersecretary of defense, who never got that particular memo and called Islam a spiritual enemy?

Well, actually, I do think it's not about Islam. My pronoun "it" now having shifted somewhat to being a little more abstract about America's inability to take Islam seriously and show (institutionally) real respect for it and for devout Muslims.

I think it's about racism. About brown people who just happen to practice another religion, which makes them even more "foreign" and therefore scary. But I think it starts with racism.

The New World was settled on the justification that the claim to the land of anyone non-white didn't matter because they didn't matter, they weren't white. Johnson v. M'Intosh. Part of it was that they weren't Christian, too, and I don't know which weighs more, I think by the end, racism did, because a lot of Christian slaveholders stopped freeing slaves after they'd been "saved" by Jesus, even though many originally did so because it would be a sin to hold another Christian in bondage. Holding a heathen in bondage and maybe trying to save their soul, wasn't.

We (European colonists) encouraged racism -- tacitly or deliberately or both, I don't know -- in order to justify taking over all those luscious resources North America represented. And we kept doing it, institutionalizing that racism by buying black slaves and building an agricultural economy off the sweat of their brows. That racism stuck around and kept on sticking, and keeps on sticking today.

I think it lies at the base of many US attitudes to other countries and our lack of respect for just about everyone.

Not the only thing, I'm sure, but a big element.


United States of Santorum

In Ohio, the Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church said at a gathering of 1,000 Patriot Pastors last week that the issues underscoring the filibuster fight transcend partisan politics.
"We're not Democrats. We're not Republicans. We're Christocrats," he declared.

Well, there you have it.

You know, the Republicans should change their name since they're not Republicans anymore.

But I know they won't, after all, why sacrifice all that brand-name recognition?

LA has Latino Mayor!

Los Angeles has its first Latino mayor since 1872

Hispanics in California are celebrating after a high school dropout who went back to school and turned his life around was elected mayor of the second-biggest city in the United States.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cookies, regional cookbooks, and Top 50 Things Every Foodie Should Do

This is one of those personal blog-type entries with a strong puff pastry component, as opposed to politics, paramacia, or programming.

I think I have found "my" cookie. This may well be the Sidra cookie. I was making oil cookies (sugar cookies that use oil as their binder) for a while early last year, and then moved over to making roll cookies (which are rather like shortbread, very good with a little jelly dabbed on them, even better if you shape them for that exact purpose - so went the last of my precious fireweed jelly[*] from Alaska) after moving here (and with some intervening quick breads and brownies), and now it seems I'm in love with "refrigerator cookies", which use almost exactly the same recipe as my roll cookies, yet come out different. ("Refrigerator cookie", because you chill before slicing and baking.) Someday, when I have money, I'll splurge and add chocolate chips and walnuts to them, and oh, will they be good.

In the end, they're all sugar cookies, but it's remarkable how some simple changes make such a difference.

I put home mixed spices in my sugar cookies - curry powder, 10-spice, hot pepper - just for fun, and if someday I'm not too lazy, I'll try pfeffernusse. Laziness is an issue because rolling in powdered sugar is involved. And I'm lazy. Really, really lazy.

However, I won't give up the possibility of mysore pakku or cardomom fudge as becoming my next big thing.

One of my none-so-secret hopes of my trip to Ireland (I will be at the National University of Ireland, in Galway, attending a summer session on international human rights law) is that not only will I find some native yarn or roving to buy, but also come home with some regional recipes. I collect cookbooks, and my favorites are little local cookbooks that church auxilaries tend to put together.

[*]I was able to find rosehip butter at one of the local Russian groceries to make up for the loss. I expect I'll never find fireweed anything unless I go back to Alaska.

The top 50 things every foodie should do at least once. Yum, yum!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Huh. Is Newsweek Lying?

It's a sad state of affairs when the first thing I thought this morning upon hearing from NPR that Newsweek was potentially "retracting" their story about desecrations of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay was, "well I'll be, they pressured NW into lying".

Oh, look, Plaidder's got a tip on this one: Newsweek Got Gitmo Right.

"A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." (Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005.)

"The behavior of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible. They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet, and generally disrespect it." Center for Constitutional Rights, 2004.


Returning Afghans Talk of Guantanamo, 2003

The People the Law Forgot (Part One) (Part Two) Dec 2003.

So. How about that. That's three years worth.

Islam as interrogation tool: need for limits?

Army Sgt. Erik Saar couldn't wait to get to Guantánamo Bay to help ferret information from the terrorists being held there. When the intelligence linguist arrived, however, he was startled to hear the Muslim call to prayer. Why, he wondered, would America make such a "concession to the religious zealotry" of the detainees?

Tell me, would anyone think that question if the detainees were Christian?

Yet as he worked as an interpreter in the cell blocks and interrogation rooms, Sergeant Saar's attitude changed. Methods that demeaned Islamic beliefs and tried to make detainees feel separate from God struck him as counterproductive. They not only failed to produce information, he says, but also fueled the sense there and abroad that the US is at war with Islam.

Well, duh. Not duh to you, Sgt, just duh. Of course they would have that effect. I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? Once you know what the Koran actually means to Muslims?

Why Koran is such a hot button